9:56am PT by Ryan Parker
Kermit the Frog Muppeteer Says Disney Fired Him
Kermit the Frog muppeteer Steve Whitmire says he was unexpectedly let go by Disney after voicing the iconic character for 27 years.
Early this week, news broke that Whitmire, who had been working with The Muppets Studio since 1978, would be replaced as the beloved talking frog, originally voiced by creator Jim Henson.
In a post on his personal blog, verified as Whitmire's site by The Hollywood Reporter, he told fans he was sorry they were let down.
"As I am sure you can imagine, I have experienced every possible emotion since October 2016, when I received a phone call from The Muppets Studio's executives to say they were recasting," Whitmire wrote. "Through a new business representative, I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues, which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call. I wish that we could have sat down, looked each other in the eye and discussed what was on their minds before they took such a drastic action."
A Disney spokeswoman said in a statement: "The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors." No comment was given on the blog's content.
Muppeteer Matt Vogel will take over as Kermit the Frog. His first time as the character will be in a "Muppets Thought of the Week" video next week, Disney confirmed.
Whitmire was picked to take over the role of Kermit by Henson's son, Brian, and widow, Jane, after the beloved creator's death in 1990.
"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion," he wrote. "I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero."
Whitmire still has hope, he wrote.
"I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course," he wrote. "Doing what is best for the Muppets is the lens through which all my interactions have been filtered. Given the opportunity I remain willing to do whatever is required to remedy their concerns because I feel my continued involvement with the characters is in the best interest of the Muppets."